Recently, I was working with a local contractor, who was commenting about the performance of my employees. Since this was already a sore point with me, it didn’t take much to get me on the complaining track.

After about 15 minutes, I had to stop. A stray thought flitted through my mind and for an instant I knew that there was a better way and that I just dumped on this person and I wished I hadn’t done that.

He asked if I felt better. Actually, I felt worse. Angry emotions surged through me. I was ready to roll some heads. Stress at it’s finest!

Months before, I had reached an unhappy equilibrium with my employees but I also knew that there was truth in what the contractor was saying about their performance. There definitely was room for improvement. I knew I had to take action with my employees and perhaps this contractor was providing me the motivation, but it still didn’t feel good. I also knew that action taken in anger would not give me the results I wanted.

Later, when I relayed the story to the owner of the company, I noticed that what I was saying was disturbing and upsetting him. Not only did I make myself feel bad, I was passing that negative feeling on to someone else!

I learned a valuable lesson that day. I had allowed this contractor to activate the frustration energy I felt towards my employees. He was stirring me to action. That part was fine. The part I felt bad about was how I made myself feel worse by complaining and how I passed the negative feelings on to make someone else feel bad. It didn’t have to be that way.

There is a saying: “Misery loves company”. Complaining seems to be a normal part of a person’s day. Both men and women do it frequently in dramatic presentations or minor grumblings. Complaining brings more attention to the disturbing topic, which seems to build it into a bigger problem than it started out to be. When we dump on someone, we draw him or her into our emotional charge. Two things happen. First, the energy of the situation blossoms, so that you get much more of what you were complaining about. The molehill becomes a mountain. The second is that the person you dumped on is emotionally aroused and feels bad, too.

The more people you draw into the web of complaining, the bigger the ripple effect. This means that for those that buy into your drama, they will activate that vibration in their energy field and attract similar negative experiences to one degree or another.

Women tend to use talking about something that happened as a way to process the event. This can easily turn into a complaining session if their listener sympathizes with them and joins into the complaining role.

Do you ever complain about an event, a situation or an interaction between you and another person? Have you ever noticed how it feels both during the complaining process and afterward?

Do you find it builds more emotion when you talk with someone who has a sympathetic ear and either frustrates you or calms you when that person has a new perspective on your situation or is neutral?

Here's the real eye-opener. What you complain about stems from something inside of yourself. What you complain about is usually a reflection of something you do or don't do either in reality or symbolically. When you notice you are complaining about something, look to yourself and imagine you are complaining about yourself!

When something happens that stirs your emotions, what can you do? It seems natural to talk to someone else about it. How can you do this without making yourself and the other person feel bad?

Yesterday, I found myself in a complaining session similar to the example above. I stopped myself from letting my emotions run, and simply listened to the person say their piece. Since the situation required action on my part, when I talked with the owner, I found myself briefly stating the facts, then found myself talking about the solution. I noticed that even though action was required, neither of us were upset or stressed.

The first step to short-circuiting the complaining process is to put the event into perspective before you talk to someone else. Remember, you are in charge of what you choose to think about and what you choose to feel. It takes consciousness, practice and a willingness to change your responses.

1.Listen to what the person who is trying to stir you into action says as neutrally as possible. Stop your Inner Instigator. Be aware that some people like to stir the pot for the emotional charge they receive from you. It somehow validates them and makes them feel good.

2.Don’t engage in conversation, retrieving from your experiences all the supporting evidence that validates what the person is talking about. If you need more clarity, ask a question.

3.What are the results you want from the topic being presented?

4.If action is required, address that action and any people involved from as grounded, emotionally neutral and balanced point as possible. Emotional responses can become walls or blocks to communication.

5.Don’t drag someone else into your emotionally charged situation by telling your story over and over again.

6.Focus on the solution. Discuss how to resolve the situation or what would feel better.

If you are the listener of complaints or the 'dumpee', then listen without engaging in the topic. After a reasonable amount of time for the person to vent their feelings, gently acknowledge their feelings about the situation, then offer other perspectives. If the person is determined to hold on to their negative viewpoint, you may need to leave the conversation in as non-threatening a way as possible.

Constructive complaining does have its place as a means of motivating change. However, when it goes beyond simply stating facts and starts stirring strong emotions, then it becomes destructive complaining. Each time an emotionally charged story is repeated, it builds in energy. Pretty soon, the story takes on a life of it’s own, and starts running your life.

You decide. You choose. Do you want to create an energy-sucking monster or create a more peaceful, balanced life where you constructively deal with whatever life throws at you? Does engaging in complaining help or hinder you feeling good about yourself and your life?

Author's Bio: 

Elaine Correia Dollowitch draws from years of experience to empower people to live a satisfying and fulfilling life AND have the relationship they desire. Go to for more information and articles.